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Pearls are the Birthstone of June: Also known as the “Queen of Gems”

| June 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Kaaren Bedi

07 pearl in clamWe take them for granted these days but for centuries they have been among the most coveted and precious gems in the world.

For most of history pearls were naturally occurring gems found in a verity of mollusks both marine and freshwater. First found in the waters of the Persian Gulf, the waters along the coast of India and Sri Lanka and the rivers and lakes of China- the oldest mention dating back to 2206 BC.

European pearl fever hit is high point during the years of exploration of the new world. They found exceptional pearls in Venezuela, Panama, the bay of Mexico and the rivers of North America. So many pearls came from the New World it was some times called the “Land of Pearls.” The most famous pearls in the treasuries of Europe came from the Americas. But over-fishing and the pollution from industrialization nearly wiped out the pearls of the new world by the 1800’s.

So how is it that we have such an abundance of pearls today?

The first patent for cultivating pearls was granted in 1896 to Kokishi Mikimoto for making Mabe or hemispherical pearls. This technique coupled with other innovations by Japanese scientists enabled him to created the first ‘cultured’ pearls.

The culturing process involves enticing oysters to produce round pearls by inserting a piece of oyster epithelial membrane with a nucleus of shell into an oyster’s body or mantel causing the tissue to form a pearl sack. The sack then secretes “nacre” to coat the nucleus thus creating a pearl.

This joint effort between man and oyster has meant that nearly everyone can afford pearls. These pearls vary wildly in quality and costs. However, with the increase in pollution and warming of the world’s oceans, even fine cultured pearls are becoming more difficult to find. Some even believe that fine pearls, cultivated or natural, will become an extreme rarity in the near future.

Smith & Bevill, your local family jewelry store, has AGS certified appraisers on staff as well as master gold smiths and factory certified watch makers. We also buy gold, silver and platinum jewelry.

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